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StarBulletin.com

Machine-eaten ATM cards likely will not be returned


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POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

QUESTION: I recently attempted to use the American Savings Bank ATM in front of Foodland at Market City. It malfunctioned and didn't return my card. Inconvenient, but no problem, I thought, since the bank branch inside Foodland was still open. But I was told by the branch manager that he couldn't return my card because it wasn't an American Savings card and the card might have been canceled. This doesn't make sense. Even if that were the case, which it wasn't, returning my card would simply be restoring the status quo. It was the bank's ATM that malfunctioned. Now I have to go through the inconvenience of reporting the card lost. If this is the bank's policy, shouldn't all its ATMs have a sign that reads, “;If your card isn't a ASB card, and this machine malfunctions, your card will not be returned”;?

ANSWER: An American Savings Bank official reaffirmed what is said to be a general banking policy: “;Unfortunately, once an ATM collects a card (not issued by American Savings), we don't return it to the person.”;

He said American Savings has no way to verify why the card was “;collected”; and that it could have been reported stolen or lost, etc.

He also said that he's worked at three different banks, and each one had the same policy. He apologized for the inconvenience and offered to speak to you directly.

While policies might vary, generally speaking, most banks won't return a “;captured”; card and will destroy it, according to Gary Fujitani, executive director of the Hawaii Bankers Association.

There could be “;multiple reasons”; for this policy, “;but the basic reason is that you're not a customer,”; he said. “;It's hard to deal with a noncustomer on an issue like this.”;

Fujitani added, “;The instruction should be that the cardholder should call their bank to make arrangements for a replacement card if they feel the card was captured erroneously.”;

He also noted that more and more off-premise ATMs (those not attached to their banks) no longer require people to submit their cards. Instead, the new technology is for people to simply swipe their cards through a card reader.

QUESTION: Many years ago on the mainland, I remember seeing automated rubbish trucks with the big arm that grabbed two bins at a time, dumping the trash into the truck. Here, I only see one bin at a time being grabbed. Is there something different about the system here that prevents grabbing two bins at a time?

ANSWER: The “;grabbers”; on the city's trucks, “;and most on the mainland,”; are designed to service just one cart at a time, according to the Department of Environmental Services.

This is how it was explained to us:

The grabber is designed to grip one cart in a “;perfect”; fit. If more than one cart is handled, pressure is not evenly distributed on the four corners and two sides of each cart, resulting in damage to the carts.

In Honolulu, customers who have more than one cart are instructed to separate their carts by about five feet. Drivers are instructed to pick up only single carts.

We're also told there is no “;benefit of efficiency”; in picking up two carts at a time because the trash routes are determined by the number of carts on each route and not the number of stops or households.